Would you rather work with a high-IQ genius who's difficult and demanding, or an average-IQ colleague who's capable, dependable, kind, and easy to get along with? Surveys show an overwhelming majority of employees would choose the latter. That's one reason EQ is a better indicator of success than IQ in the workplace: people choose to work with people they like and trust, who make them feel valued and appreciated. As Maya Angelou said, "People will forget what you said and what you did, but they'll never forget how you made them feel." Whether or not you were born with Einstein's IQ, you can develop a high EQ that makes you a genius with people. Begin by practicing these EQ-boosting tips:
-1. Give others your full attention. In South Africa, members of the Zulu tribe greet one another by saying "Sawubona," which literally means, "I see you." The response is "Sikhona," which means, "I am here." This exchange has profound significance: until you acknowledge that you "see me," I do not exist; and when you do "see me," you bring me into existence. The Zulu greeting reminds us of the powerful intrinsic human need to feel respected and valued. As a high-EQ communicator, when you meet with another person, give them your undivided attention. Acknowledge that you truly see them. Stop what you're doing and convey the intention of "Sawubona." Turn to face them, look them in the eye, and be fully present to their presence.
-2. Listen actively. The most basic emotional human need is to feel heard and understood. The best way to fill that emotional need in others is by listening to them. Concentrate on the person; listen carefully for meaning; check with the speaker to verify and clarify what you heard. Notice that if you rearrange the letters in "listen" you get the word "silent." By being silent and listening actively to those around you, you increase mutual understanding, build trust, neutralize conflict, and set the tone for openness and honesty.
-3. Show interest. Dale Carnegie once sat beside a famous New York gossip columnist at a dinner party. To stay out of trouble and the tabloids, he decided he would do nothing the entire evening but ask her questions about herself and keep her talking. To Carnegie's surprise, he still made the headline of her column: "Mr. Dale Carnegie is by far the best conversationalist I have ever met!" In the arena of EQ, it's more important to be interestED than interestING.
-4. Practice empathy. Carolyn, a bank president, has a pair of framed leather moccasins hanging on her office wall. This symbol reminds her to heed the ancient Native American proverb, "Never criticize a person until you've walked a mile in his moccasins." The symbol is a public commitment to step inside the shoes of the other person and look at the situation from their perspective. To boost your EQ, cultivate an awareness of others' feelings, needs, and concerns.
-5. Be positive. This is not just a suggestion to smile more or see the glass half full. Professor and psychologist Barbara Fredrickson at University of North Carolina has found tangible proof in her research that "positive emotions contribute to optimal individual and organizational functioning." People who choose to feel and foster positive emotions in the workplace, such as joy, interest, contentment, and gratitude, actually think more expansively, creatively, and inclusively than those who steep in negative emotions, such as fear, anger, envy, and sadness. People who choose positivity have a wider network of resources; see more possibilities to problems; envision the 'big picture;' and experience more happiness and satisfaction. Fredrickson's advice: Cultivate positive emotions in your sphere of influence to achieve individual and organizational transformation.
-6. Show appreciation. According to Gallup, Inc., "The number one reason most Americans leave their jobs is that they don't feel appreciated." Many of us don't realize the power we have to make someone feel valued, relevant, and needed. Take time to see the good in the people around you. Tell them about it; write them a note of thanks; endorse or recommend them. Be generous with sincere words of gratitude, praise, and encouragement. You'll not only make someone's day, you may retain your top talent in the process.
-7. Count to 10. As humorist Will Rogers warned, "People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing." The actual emotions that arise within us are not always under our control--we feel what we feel; however, the way in which we respond to those emotions is under our control. When you get angry or upset, breathe deeply and count for as long as it takes to avoid 'a bad landing.' The goal is to avoid a career-jeopardizing reaction and instead choose a response that demonstrates emotional intelligence.
If you would like to learn more about raising your EQ and communicating more persuasively, please read my book, Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results (available in hard cover, audio, and Kindle).
Feel free to contact me directly to schedule a corporate training event for you and your team. I would be honored to support your communication success.